A Long Branch woman is suing TJ Maxx Inc. and its parent TJX Cos. Inc. after receiving an offensive note on a receipt in the company’s Eatontown store.
Upon returning some recently purchased active wear to TJ Maxx, Kourtney Dillon allegedly received a receipt that identified her as “Kourtney Dillion Dick Lover.”
Obviously this is offensive, but this is also an internal data breach.
Dillon, whose name was misspelled on the receipt, is now seeking damages to compensate for what court documents say is the humiliation and discrimination she experienced based on her gender and sexual orientation.
Dillon’s lawyer, Josh Bauchner, said the case is not simply one of of unconscionable consumer practice—retailers should not treat customers like that—but also an issue of data security.
“The concern is that employee can modify her name, it can modify other information for her and other customers,” said Bauchner, a partner at Ansell, Grimm & Aaron in Woodland Park. “Obviously this is offensive, but this is also an internal data breach. The idea that it’s an isolated incident … why would an employee just do it to her? This information is stored in the system, and we don’t know the extent of how much they’ve compromised her data or that of other customers.”
It doesn’t appear that her identifier was entered by the cashier present but that it already existed that way in the system, according to Bauchner.
“For someone under their control to be able to change the data so freely is very concerning, especially in an age where identity theft is so commonplace,” he said.
TJX was the subject of a high-profile data breach in 2007, when 94 million customers’ credit cards were compromised. At the time, it was the biggest such breach in history.
Bauchner calls the fact that this is an internal data breach “different, and likely worse.”
“In light of prior data breaches, you’d expect they’d have protocol in place to protect against it,” he said.
Dillon’s claims against TJ Maxx include intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent infliction of emotional distress; negligence; violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act; violation of New Jersey Law Against Discrimination; and violation of New Jersey Truth-In-Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act.
Additionally, she is pursuing a class action for those who have been on the receiving end of receipts with offensive or abusive slurs from the company.
Dillon and TJX are engaged in settlement negotiations. TJX has through April 17 to respond.
A representative from TJX declined to comment on pending litigation.